Every two or three months, I’ll build up the courage to pull the vacuum out of the closet. It’s an hour-long process each time. I take a few 5- to 10-minute cowering breaks on my way to the doorknob, and if I make it all the way to there without fainting, I usually call it a day.

The one time that I was actually able to turn the vacuum on, I screamed and a little pee came out.

I think a more pleasant spelling might be “vaccume” or maybe “vacqume.”

There’s two-and-a-half inches of dirt and lint and dog hair covering the floor of my home. Every time there’s a gust of wind, tumbleweeds go blowing across the carpet. Oftentimes I place bets on which dirt tumbleweed will reach the other side of the room first. Yesterday, Stuart won.

I’ve lived like this for years. The dirt-clots are now some of my best friends. Naturally, they too are scared of the vacuum. To a dirt-clot, a vacuum is a giant destroyer of families. I empathize with the dirt-clots, and I see the vacuum the same way they do. Perhaps this is what drives my fear. Perhaps this is what drives every decision I’ve ever made.

There was a period of time from 2006-2009 when I was able to hire a maid to come vacuum my home while I stepped out for a few hours during the afternoon. Sometimes I would take a walk in the park. Other times I went shopping.

However, over the course of those three years, I became consumed with the thought of what was taking place inside my apartment. I’d find myself coming to in the middle of a park, drenched in sweat, my heart racing as the next wave of panic overtook me. Or in the mall, I’d become so ill with the thought of the maid running the vacuum that I’d vomit into Boscov’s.

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Even now as I write this, I’m nauseous beyond description.

I think it’s the two “U’s” when I type “vacuum” that is turning my knuckles white and making the hairs on my hands stand upright. It’s a double-U, but not a “W,” which is uniquely terrifying to me.

Although it wouldn’t completely numb my fears, I think a more pleasant spelling might be “vaccume” or maybe “vacqume.” Both of those are also very scary, but not as scary as the real word. I’m sure, though, that if either was to be accepted as the new spelling, with time, I would become equally afraid of those strings of letters.

Alas, I am not the man who controls the spelling of horrifying words. I am the man drenched in his own urine, writing about the scariest appliance that has ever existed.

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